November 11, 2002

Christian Coalition calls for solidarity with Israel
___By Aparna Kumar
___Religion News Service
___WASHINGTON (RNS)--Rain did not deter hundreds of evangelical Christians and Jews from joining in a Christian Coalition rally Oct. 11 at which Pat Robertson and the mayor of Jerusalem called for unconditional American solidarity with Israel in its struggle against the Palestinian intifada.
___"We should not ask (Israel) to withdraw (from occupied territories)--we should stand with them and fight," Robertson said to rousing applause. "Jerusalem is the eternal, indivisible capital of the state of Israel, and it must not be divided."
___Robertson, who said his support for Israel is long-standing, cited the Book of Genesis, in which God granted Abraham and his descendants the ancient land of Canaan, now believed to be modern Israel.
___Ehud Olmert, mayor of Jerusalem, thanked evangelical Christians for their support in the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians over the future of his city.
___"God is with us, you are with us--we will win this war against terrorists," Olmert said.
___Originally scheduled to take place in front of the White House, the rally was moved to the Washington Convention Center,where the coalition was conducting a weekend conference on American political priorities.
___Co-sponsored by Joyce Meyer Ministries, the coalition conference featured former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and former Lt. Col. Oliver North.
___Evangelist Jerry Falwell, in a videotaped message to the Christian Coalition conference, said, "I have believed in and supported the Abrahamic covenant that God blesses those who bless Israel and curses those who curse Israel."
___Friday's rally underscored what some religious analysts said is a growing alliance between Christian evangelicals and American Jews in support of Israel.
___The Christian Coalition claims to be the country's largest grassroots organization, boasting 2 million supporters.
___"The Lord tells me to pray for Jerusalem," said Richard McCrae, a Christian who came to the conference from Albuquerque, N.M. "They have as much right to defend themselves as we have for defending ourselves against terrorism."
___His mother-in-law, Shirley Johnson, from Taos, N.M., said she hadn't made up her mind about the situation in Israel.
___"I still don't know what is right because children on both sides are being killed," Johnson said. "There should be a way (without) the sacrifice of children to resolve something."
___Toby LaRue of Baltimore said she didn't know much about Israel but came to the rally "to learn what it was all about."
___At a time when the lives of Americans have been touched with fear of future terrorist attacks in their own back yard, and when the United States is edging toward war with Iraq, sympathy between Americans and Israelis has grown.
___Sixty-two percent of conservative Christians said they support Israel and its policies toward "Palestinian terrorism," compared with 54 percent of the overall American population, according to a Tarrence Group poll released last month by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
___But the poll found that "Jews continue to harbor a certain degree of skepticism toward the evangelical Christian community."
___The survey concluded: "Conservative Christians here in the U.S. think they are on the same page as the Jews when it comes to the issue of Israel, but the Jews just don't see it the same way."
___Josh Ruebner, co-founder of the Washington-based group Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, called the alliance between Christian evangelicals and American Jews in support of Israel "repugnant."
___"Most of the right-wing elements which make up the Christian Coalition are truly anti-Semitic at heart." Ruebner said. "These are people who believe that Jewish souls cannot go to heaven and that Jews will have to be converted before the end of days."
___Ruebner's group opposes the "Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands" and supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
___Conservative Christians also disproportionately favor U.S. military action against Iraq, according to the poll. Sixty-nine percent of them said they would support it, compared to 59 percent of Americans at large.

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